‘Desperate situation’: UN rights chief urges Taliban to ensure women’s rights in Afghanistan


Women in Afghanistan face hunger, food insecurity, growing domestic violence and harassment, Michelle Bachelet says

The UN human rights chief urged on Friday the Taliban to respect the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan.

Women face hunger and food insecurity, growing domestic violence and harassment, unemployment, attacks and lack of access to education, Michelle Bachelet told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

She said that since the Taliban took power, women and girls have been “experiencing the most significant and rapid rollback in the enjoyment of their rights in decades.”

“Their future will be even darker unless something changes quickly,” Bachelet warned. “The responsibility is on us all.”

“The de facto authorities I met with during my visit in March this year said they would honor their human rights obligations, as far as consistent with Islamic sharia law,” she said.

“Yet, despite these assurances, we are witnessing the progressive exclusion of women and girls from the public sphere and their institutionalized, systematic oppression,” she lamented.

Expressing sympathy and solidarity to all those affected by the recent earthquake, she said “this calamity aggravates the already desperate situation.”

Bachelet underlined that the Taliban face legal obligations under international treaties.

“Today, I again ask the de facto authorities to take up these women’s urgent calls for a seat at the table and to engage in meaningful dialogue. This will only benefit Afghanistan as a whole,” she asserted.

“I also call upon the de facto authorities to set a firm date for the opening of secondary schools for girls, and to ensure quality education, without discrimination, and resources for teachers.”

The UN rights chief urged the interim Taliban administration to remove restrictions on women’s freedom of movement, including the requirement of male chaperones and the mandatory face covering, while also allowing women the right to work, including self-employment.

“Finally, I strongly encourage the de facto authorities to engage with predominantly Muslim countries with experience in promoting women and girls’ rights, as guaranteed in international law,” she said.

“As for the international community, more concerted efforts are needed to insist that the de facto authorities urgently restore, protect and promote the rights of Afghan women and girls.”​​​​​​​



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